Caring for the Creative Self

Grief Support Partnership with Trellis Supportive Care

by Emily Ortiz Badalamente

At Sawtooth, we believe Art + Wellness lives in every studio. Our partnership with Trellis Supportive Care, formerly Hospice and Palliative Care, has allowed us to extend our Art + Wellness community with our pilot program, a seven-week grief support series titled Caring for the Creative Self: Support for Adults Grieving the Death of a Loved One. Group members gathered at Sawtooth on seven consecutive Thursday nights for an hour and a half of creative programming, divided between yoga, visual art, and creative writing and reflection. 

CJ Howard opened each group with gentle movement exercises, providing participants with adaptable stretches and poses that encouraged centering and mindfulness. Each week, a different art instructor then led the group in exploring different visual media. Group members were guided through watercolor, fiber arts, pastels, mixed media, poetry, and book arts by Art + Wellness instructors. Working in a variety of media allowed workshop participants to explore how each creative process can evoke different emotions and different individual experiences. Each session ended with guided journaling and a closing led by CJ.

Artmaking can serve several roles in the grieving process. Creating art can serve as a respite from verbally discussing grief, providing both a creative means of relaxation or an alternative way to express ones’ emotions. Art making can also be a way to honor and remember loved ones, through the process of creating or in the finished art product. In this, we to introduce several different creative processes to allow participants to explore different means of self-expression that could be incorporated into participants’ own self-care. One group member expressed that “the most helpful aspect of attending this group has been the ability to relax and not think about every-day stressors. Through the seven weeks, [the instructors] have cradled us into creatively expressing our grief.” Another participant found that it was “so helpful to have exposure to a number of creative outlets that we can use on our own for self-care.”

Sawtooth is grateful to Trellis Supportive Care for their partnership and to our Art + Wellness instructors for providing a safe, comforting, and creative experience for all that we work with. We are especially grateful to our group members for their participation and creativity. To learn more about Art + Wellness at Sawtooth, visit 

Art + Wellness